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November 11, 2011 / jhsaeger

Foo Fighters Rock Philadelphia

   The Foo Fighters played a loud, long, and memorable set at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia last night.  The group matched the energy of their capacity crowd, and left the audience in awe of their Wasting Light Tour.  Their three-bill show with The Joy Formidable and Social Distortion had an air of excitement from start to finish, including when the electric crowd was rehearsing for the night by singing in unison to Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” that was a part of the Foo Fighters’ pre-show house music.

   The Foo Fighters’ themselves played for two hours and 45 minutes with a 24-song setlist that dove into their most recent release Wasting Light while not neglecting their hit FM radio mainstays like “Monkeywrench” and “This is a Call.”  Frontman Dave Grohl led the charge of their four-guitar attack with “Bridge Burning” and “Rope.”  Drummer Taylor Hawkins looked like The Muppets’ Animal, pounding away on the drums with his trademark straight jacket insanity.  Grohl and lead guitarist Chris Shifflett also traded flashy solos on “Stacked Actors.”  
    If there was one small detractor of the evening, it was that the Foo Fighters jammed and mashed up their already-great songs a bit too much.  That being said, it’s hard to be dissatisfied with a band that rocks too hard.
   Their six-song encore was initiated in the bowels of the arena, while Grohl and Hawkins prodded the crowed on the video board – trying to determine exactly how many songs they had left in them.  Grohl began the encore playing acoustically on a raised platform towards the rear of the arena, singing “Wheels,” “Best of You”, and a verse of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” before his unplugged “Times Like These” was joined in by the rest of the band kicking in on the main stage.  Former Husker Du frontman Bob Mould joined the group on stage for “Dear Rosemary” and a cover of Tom Petty’s “Breakdown.”  The Foo Fighters also covered Pink Floyd’s “In the Flesh.”

   Grohl, who jokingly lamented the fact that he couldn’t talk more because the band had, “too many hits,” expertly played to the crowd all night long.  Among his many musings, he promised the packed house that the Foo Fighters would return for a show at Philadelphia’s Electric Factory multiple times.  After repeating the promise before the band wrapped up the night with their staple “Everlong,” he wished the crowd “good luck getting tickets” to the venue (which seats about 17,000 less) with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  
   Supporting acts The Joy Formidable and Social Distortion matched the energy and style of their headliner as well.  The prompt Joy Formidable hit the stage at 7:00 and set the tone for the evening with a raucous five-song set.  The Welsh band, which may be the only band touring arenas with a gong in tow, closed out their responsibilities with a lengthy version of their made-for-volume song “Whirring.”  
   Veteran California punk rockers Social Distortion played a medium-sized setlist to warm up the crowd.  After opening with “Bad Luck,” they began to play songs from their record Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes that came out this past January.  Frontman Mike Ness wisely choose their cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” to rev up the crowd for the headlining Foo Fighters.  

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